It is September 1919: twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver a package of letters to the sister of Will Bancroft, the man he fought alongside during the Great War.
But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan's visit. He can no longer keep a secret and has finally found the courage to unburden himself of it. As Tristan recounts the horrific details of what to him became a senseless war, he also speaks of his friendship with Will - from their first meeting on the training grounds at Aldershot to their farewell in the trenches of northern France. The intensity of their bond brought Tristan happiness and self-discovery as well as confusion and unbearable pain.
The Absolutist is a masterful tale of passion, jealousy, heroism, and betrayal set in one of the most gruesome trenches of France during World War I. This novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats until its most extraordinary and unexpected conclusion, and will stay with them long after they've turned the last page.
...[W]hile some readers may find the material unsympathetic, the author raises worthy questions, including the consequences of holding fast to unchangeable events. Boyne's rendering of Marian Bancroft... also helps invigorate the material. Conflicted, temperamental, charming, forgetful, loyal to her brother's memory, and unforgiving, she is complex where others seem defined by a handful of traits. Her story elevates the plot as Sadler must consider the effects of facing the family of someone he has harmed. Readers who are intrigued by the period and by the author's previous award-winning novel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, will appreciate this latest exploration of psychological trauma on the Western Front. (Reviewed by Karen Rigby).
Powerful, poignant and beautifully written. This will become a classic war novel.
The Daily Beast
What is most memorable here is the timelessly doomed relationship between Tristan and Will, marked by tenderness and confusion and cruelty in the face of their own internalized repression, as British as it is of its time. This is a wonderfully crafted tragedy that will stay with the reader for days.
A relentlessly tragic yet beautifully crafted novel.
Some of the key moments of the book - notably an encounter with a frightened German soldier - are very effective.
A thought-provoking and surprising page-turner that for some readers may recall Ian McEwan's Atonement.
Literary Review (UK)
[In] Boyne's fiction, there's a sense that people are fundamentally the sum of their traumas... Boyne's narrative grip is strong.
The Irish Times
Political, personal, powerful... a fiercely interrogative novel that asks not just what it means to be a man but also what it means to be a human being in the extreme circumstances of war.
John Boyne brings a completely fresh eye to the most important stories. He is one of the great craftsmen in contemporary literature.
A wonderful, sad, tender book that is going to have an enormous impact on everyone who reads it.
In John Boyne's The Absolutist, twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich, England to deliver a package of letters to Will Bancroft's sister. Norwich, a city located along the River Wensum in eastern England, is the county seat of Norfolk and was once one of the largest, most populated towns in England, second only to London in prosperity.
Norfolk (literally meaning North people), shares the bulge on the east of England, known as East Anglia with it's southern neighbor - Suffolk (South people). The region is known as East Anglia after the Angles, a Germanic group who settled the area by the 5th century. The etymology of Norwich is essentially north-wich - wich being the Anglo-Saxon designation for a coastal trading settlement.
It is the most intact, walled medieval city in England and one of the few that did not arise from...
Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class. At its center this is a profoundand profoundly movingexploration of shame, forgiveness and the difficulty of absolution.
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